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Les Voiles de St. Barth 2012: Last Chances

April 08, 2012

No one said competing in paradise was easy, and on Saturday, the final race day at Les Voiles de St. Barth, crews were again tested with light as well as variable winds. Tacticians and navigators found it challenging – as did helmsman and trimmers who were searching for any advantage in the changeable conditions.

Final day's racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth

Final day's racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth ©: Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

But with first place still in play in more than half the classes going into the final race, there was plenty of incentive to maintain concentration. In IRC52, Spinnaker 1, Non-Spinnaker Racing, and Multihull classes, only one point separated the first two positions. Les Voiles de St. Barth Race Committee sent the fleet on an initial upwind beat and then around the western islands including Ile Fourchue. Though after several hours, with the breeze lightning even more and with much of the fleet only halfway around, the race committee elected to shorten the course.

In the Maxi class, George David’s 90-foot superyacht Rambler (Hartford, Conn.) posted four wins for the week. David has won the two prior editions of Les Voiles, last year with his former boat, Rambler 100.  The high-tech monohull, built to break ocean records, capsized in dramatic fashion last August off the Fastnet Rock, when the keel snapped off. Many of the crew from the 100-footer were in St. Barth’s racing on Rambler this year.

David is a big fan of Les Voiles, “This is a great regatta for a bunch of reasons: it’s a beautiful island, and it’s a vertical island, so it’s scenic to sail around, and you can get some very complicated courses. The race committee does a great job in setting the courses and the breeze can be quite shifty in close to shore, so there are typically lots of turns in this race course.  This week, we had between 20 – 23 mile long races, typically seven legs or so, so lots of crew activity and a lot of opportunity for error.”

Racing on final day of Les Voiles de St. Barth

Racing on final day of Les Voiles de St. Barth ©: Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

David described the inner workings of the water-ballasted speedster, “The big advantage we have, especially in lighter air like this, is we can unload the ballast. Two numbers are important: this boat dry displaces 21 tons and then we add six tons of water ballast to it. Especially in light air conditions, if you can get the boat to float higher and take less power to push it like today, we just slip away. The water ballast is a tremendous advantage.

“Racing is a little bit about luck. It’s also about organization and teamwork, and I think that’s one place where Rambler does no shy from; it’s a mature program, we’ve been racing together now for six years. And we have more miles on the boat than is typical.”

It’s a great place to have a regatta, well sponsored, the shore side parties and race committee work is great. If you talk to all competitors, you’d have to scramble to find a complaint. It just gets better all the time, but it was a pretty high standard in the first place.

This year an IRC class was added in response to the owners input. The new class proved successful as racing for the IRC52 was close all week with each of the boats, Mayhem, Vesper, and PowerPlay winning a race. Today Jim Swartz’ Vesper (USA) took a bullet, but it would be Mayhem (CAN) that posted the best scoreline, to win the class overall.

Spinnaker Class racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth

Spinnaker Class racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth ©: Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

Skipper Ashley Wolfe has been sailing with her core crew for the past ten years, and onboard in St Barth’s were a formidable crew including Ross MacDonald, Charlie McKee, and Mike Mottl. Wolfe said,  “It was down to pretty much today. The week was fantastic, very tight racing back and forth – it could have been anybody, one day we were first, one day last, the next day second. No mistakes and some luck.” Asked about a return visit, Wolfe said, “I’ve heard there’s more breeze other years, so I think I’ll come back, but no complaints at all, it was a fabulous regatta!”

Spinnaker 1 class came down to a battle between Frits Bus’ Melges 24, Coors Light (St. Maarten) and Sergio Sagramoso’s J/122, Lazy Dog (Puerto Rico), which finished tied on six points, with the Dutch boat winning on a countback by virtue of their first place finish today. Ashore before the boats docked out, the wind funneled over the hill in Gustavia giving indications of a possibly breezier day. Bus was not optimistic about their chances against a boat with significantly more waterline in those condition; however, competitors eventually encountered much less wind on the course, which suited the Melges 24 and their crew just fine.

In Spinnaker 2, it was Clay Deutsch’s Defiance (Boston, Mass.) that held off Stephen Murray’s Carkeek 40, Decision (New Orleans, La.). Deutsch had chartered the Marten 49 for the regatta and sailed the boat with crew from his previous race boat, Chippewa. Deutsch said, “We’re absolutely thrilled. Decision got us today, but we have enough points for the week.  It was tough day today, very draining. It was very light and variable, with virtually no sea state, but boy, it was shifty so driving was challenging. And it was hard tactically.”

Coors Light went on to win overall in the Spinnaker 1 Class at Les Voiles de St. Barth

Coors Light went on to win overall in the Spinnaker 1 Class at Les Voiles de St. Barth ©: Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

The newly-launched Decision, with tactician Steve Benjamin onboard, pushed Defiance all week. Deutsch said, “Decision got away from us early, so we sailed our own race. They were basically our competition, and it was great having them here. It’s always more fun when you’re really racing someone and you can go at it back and forth. We were in touch with each other all week, no one ever got more than a couple of minutes ahead.”

Another first-timer at Les Voiles, he said “We really enjoyed the week, nothing bad happened. I’d love to come back, this was really first class, the race committee did a very good job and the shore side stuff was just fabulous…as only the French can do!”

Non-Spinnaker: Thomas Mullen’s J/95 sailing yacht Shamrock VII (Campton, N.H.) just held off Antiguan Bernie Evans-Wong’s High Tension. Shamrock came straight from the BVI regatta, where they won their class. Right after finishing, they delivered the boat to St Barth’s with barely time to register, let alone practice. Mullen attributed his boat’s win to a combination of bad luck for some of their competitors and extraordinarily hard work on part of his crew.

In the Multihull class, it was Peter Aschenbrenner’s Paradox (FRA) that tied with Lloyd Thornburg’s Gunboat 66, Phaedo (St. Barth, F.W.I.), and won on countback. The Nigel Irens-designed 63-footer, with American multihull sailor Cam Lewis on board, a veteran of several round the world multihull campaigns, and who provided local knowledge having been in St. Barth’s at the two previous Les Voiles regattas.

Classic: Matt and Pam Brooks, owners of the Olin Stephens-designed luxury yacht Dorade (San Francisco, Calif), were delighted to have brought the famous ocean racing yawl to the Caribbean for the first time ever in the boat’s 80+ years. Brooks said, “We have learned a lot about how to sail the boat and it has been really fun. Everyday the course was good. Yesterday’s round the island race was really challenging because of the varied conditions.  It has really been a lot of fun with good course setting and regatta management. This has been a good warm-up for the boat and crew for the Newport Bermuda Race in June.

The prize giving took place on a stage in the Race Village on the Quai General de Gaulle in Gustavia, with Bruno Magras, President of the Collectivité de Saint-Barthélemy; Ernest Brin, Capitaine of the Port; Sir Peter Harrison, ‘godfather’ of this year’s Les Voiles de St. Barth; Paul Bastard, International Jury Chairman; Marc Grisoli, President of St. Barth Yacht Club; and Francois Tolede, Event Director. Presenting awards to the competitors were Annelisa Gee, Competitions Director, and Kiki Laporte, MC for the evening’s activities.

The top three finishers in each of the three classes –  Maxi,  IRC, Classic, Spinnaker 1 & 2, Non-Spinnaker, and Multihull – were presented awards. As overall winner of the Maxi Class, George David, owner and skipper of Rambler 90 was also presented a Richard Mille Calibre RM 028 timepiece.

David enthusiastically offered, “It’s great to see the way Les Voiles has grown and progressed. Rambler and Sojana are only Maxis that have done it three years. The event started with 28 boats in 2010, so it’s clearly taking off. I think it’s going to be one of the great classic regattas in the Caribbean.”

Dates for the 2013 Les Voiles de St. Barth have been confirmed for April 8 – 13.

Les Voiles de St. Barth 2012: Once Around

April 07, 2012

A popular staple of racing in St Barth’s is the round-the-island race, and today the Les Voiles de St. Barth sailors had their turn. The fleet was sent anti-clockwise on either a 23- or 17-nautical mile course, that comprised the island itself, as well as neighboring Ile Fourchue.

Day 3 at Les Voiles de St. Barth

Day 3 at Les Voiles de St. Barth ©: Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

A land-based spectator could easily follow the fleet around – as easily as they could navigate a car along the island’s windy and narrow roads. The volcanic French island offers some impressive views: the start from historic Fort Oscar, midway around at the beachside village of Lorient, and finally from the overlook near Colombier, several hundred feet above the passage to Ile Chevreau, with the fleet by then on a downwind leg, spinnakers and staysails flying.

At the start off Gustavia, an eight to ten knot southeasterly helped send the seven classes off the line. Around the southern end, out of the lee of the island, boats encountered more breeze and bigger swells. Added to that, several rain squalls brought more wind as well, with boats experiencing 20-25 knots in the passing showers. These cells challenged some crews, who struggled to keep in phase with sail changes; those that could react faster, made big gains around the island course.

PowerPlay on Day 3 at Les Voiles de St. Barth

Sailing yacht PowerPlay on Day 3 at Les Voiles de St. Barth ©: Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

Leading the Fleet
The Maxi and IR52 classes share the same start line, which with a dozen boats, half of those over 90 feet, poses tactical challenges for all. For the most part, the more maneuverable IRC52s are usually grouped together at the start. Though today, Vesper got caught up with the charter yacht Sojana at the start, which forced them to tack out offshore. Both PowerPlay and Mayhem had a better start and came off the line even, then played the left, trading tacks up through outer anchorage. Jim Swartz’ Vesper, with Gavin Brady as tactician, caught up and the three boats were closely grouped until they encountered the first squall. Vesper’s crew Ken Keefe, said, “Mayhem came out of it with nice lead and did a good job extending all the way around the island. We only got past PowerPlay and defended all the way around.”

Keefe wasn’t sure local knowledge would have made a difference, saying, “We’ve been here three times, and actually the island is pretty logical. It’s actually a really nice race course. Probably there are some shifts here and there a local would now about. With today’s squalls going through, it’s more reacting to what is in front of you, and Mayhem did a nice job putting themselves in that position.” Summing up the day he added, “There were two rain squalls, some really good sailing all the way around, nice jog into the beach, it was all really fun.”

The Mayhem team is lead by skipper Ashley Wolfe, who currently hails from Alberta, Canada. Though her home in Calgary is nowhere near the ocean, she grew up surrounded by water in Victoria, B.C. and keeps the boat in San Francisco, CA. Her crew of Canadian and American sailors includes past Olympians Charlie McKee (tactician), and Ross MacDonald (strategist), as well as her father (pit) and husband (grinder). The family’s prior Mayhem’s included a TP52 and a Farr 40.

Maxi fleet racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth

Maxi fleet racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth ©: Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

Wolfe attributed their current standing at the top of their class to good tactics and sail selection. The Canadian skipper relished the conditions on the eastern side, “It was really fun around the corner, it was blowing about 25 knots, with a huge swell.  We have a new headsail, a furling fractioning (code) zero, and it worked well for us. We used that to round the island and then just extended our lead. We overstood under spinnaker when we had to sail really high, and we wiped out twice, but then gained it back on the next shift. We got into a few squalls with showers along the course, but basically it is spectacular here. This is a great racecourse – we just really enjoy it!

Battle brewing in Spinnaker 1
Lazy Dog, skippered by Sergio Sagramoso skipper on the J/122, Lazy Dog, just missed their third win for the week, correcting out only by 46 seconds behind Frits Bus’ Melges 24, Coors Light, Lazy Dog’s team, all from Puerto Rico, has successfully sailed together for eight to nine years, winning quite a few regattas.  Sagramoso said, “We know each other from windsurfing competitively when we were younger, then we all moved to sailing. My foredeck used to be the best windsurfer in Puerto Rico!

“We have had an amazing few days, a great time, great racing and a lot of fun.  Probably the best regatta we have ever been to.  I came once as a tourist and thought that it looked like a beautiful place to sail. This is now our new favourite regatta!

Frits Bus on Coors Light was quick to attribute their win to his crew, Benoit Meesemaecker and Markku Harmala, both world-class Laser sailors from St. Barth’s. Bus said, “We have some of the best sailors from St. Barth on board.  It really helps having good local knowledge because there are a lot of wind shifts and current here, so it is important to know where to go. We can see it against the other Melges, because they have the same boat speed but do not do the same tacks and we just gradually keep making gains.”

Day 3 racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth

Day 3 racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth ©: Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

Bus continued, “So it all comes down to tomorrow.  If we get a first place tomorrow, we will win our class; otherwise, we’ll stand in second. So the strategy for tomorrow is to sail faster and higher!”

Soaking up Atmosphere
Annie O’Sullivan, is the skipper of the Diamonds Are Forever yacht competing in Non-Spinnaker Racing class. The Irish sailor runs a company called Girls for Sail, which introduces women to racing. O’Sullivan started back in 2001, competing in many of the races in the Caribbean circuit, including Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, Grenada, and now is back at Les Voiles de St. Barth’s for the second time.

Here at Les Voiles, there were seven women onboard from Norway, Hungary, South Africa, and the U.K. Each regatta there are new crew members, so there is a learning curve to ramp up, but the affable Irish sailor seems up for the challenge: “The aim is to have them get some experience and have some fun. They turn up a few days before and we take them around and practice maneuvers, sail changes, setting spinnakers, etc.”

The quality of the competition in St. Barth’s was not lost on O’Sullivan, “We are up against some of these crews here, they are so professional, they’ve been together for years, they have amazing boats. We do everything with our boat, we sail across the Atlantic, we do RYA (Royal Yachting Association) training – so we’re here to soak up the atmosphere and be a part of a really great event.

Dorade leading in the Classics at Les Voiles de St. Barth

Sailing yacht Dorade leading in the Classics at Les Voiles de St. Barth ©: Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

Racing concludes tomorrow with the first warning signal scheduled for 11am, for the seven classes competing. Tomorrow’s weather forecast calls for easterly winds of 10-12 knots. Saturday’s prize giving is planned for 6pm in the Race Village, where awards for all seven classes will be presented.

New this year, Les Voiles de St. Barth has real-time race tracking with 2D visualization via the internet. Waypoint-Tracking developed the system in close collaboration with ISAF. The site will allow enthusiasts to follow the daily racing action live or to replay at a later time.

Rolex China Sea Race 2012: Last Sprint For Overall Title

April 07, 2012

Subic Bay hosted the second batch of yachts completing the 50th Anniversary Rolex China Sea Race today. The second yacht in after the Dubois 90 sailing yacht Genuine Risk, who finished last night to take Line Honours, was Neil Pryde’s Hi Fi finishing at 16:00.54 (UTC +8).

Neil Pryde's HI FI arrival in Subic Bay Photo by RolexDaniel Forster

Neil Pryde's HI FI yacht´s arrival in Subic Bay Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster

Pryde recounted Hi Fi’s race: “The first night we got very good mileage down the track but the second day we just ran out of wind and had a very bad day. The fleet split, we had a game plan to stay south and I think we lost out quite a lot. We didn’t get any wind and had a hard time in the race, allowing the smaller boats to catch right up to us. If we lose the race it’s going to be because of the second day, but that’s yacht racing. We had a plan, we stuck to it and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Following the Hi Fi yacht, the next to arrive in Subic Bay at 17:59.19 (UTC +8) was Jelik V and their almost entirely Filipino crew. The team’s enthusiasm at coming home was evident, as boat owner Ernesto “Judes” Echauz said, “It was a very nice race, we enjoyed it a lot. It was exciting because as usual, the race was very tactical and we were trying to analyze what the other yachts were doing. We’re not happy with our result in the sense that we had equipment failure when we broke two spinnakers, but that’s how it goes. We are happy with the new boat. This was my eighth time in this race and we congratulate the organization on how it has been done. We also thank Rolex for sponsoring this event- for us it is the best ocean racing in Asia so we wouldn’t miss it. We’ll definitely be back!”

JELIK 5 arrives in Subic Bay Photo by RolexDaniel Forster

JELIK 5 yacht arrives in Subic Bay Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster

Meanwhile, the race for IRC Overall is heating between the remaining boats, with a number in the running for taking the title, including Zanzibar, EFC Mandrake, Red Kite II, Australian Maid and Vega. “It’s a bit difficult to say how we are doing,” said Thomas Wiesinger, Skipper of Vega. “We’ve had a very good last two days and are finally approaching Subic; we hope to be there roughly tomorrow afternoon. In regards to IRC Overall, we just ran some numbers and it is looking good for the smaller boats… but I know a few other smaller boats that seem to be ahead of us so, really, we are not aiming that high. We will be very happy if we place well and so far, it is not looking bad for us, so we’ll just keep fighting and will hang in there.”

Anthony Root aboard Red Kite II confirmed that the team hoped to be in Subic Bay by breakfast local time. “We are in the final leg of the approach, doing very well, we’ve had a great race. It’s been very tactical, we’ve made a lot of judgment calls and fortunately most of them seem to be working out in our favour, so we are pretty pleased. We do think we have a chance at Overall. We’ve done some calculations on what it would take for us to win- if the breeze holds and the plan plays out the way we hope it will, we should place well in our division. But it’s a pretty close race with a lot of boats very close together so it’s hard to predict.”

The last yacht to finish as of writing was Zanzibar, with a final finish time of 20:44.48.

Rolex China Sea Race 2012: No Risk for Dubois 90 superyacht Genuine Risk

April 07, 2012

Dubois 90 sailing yacht Genuine Risk crossed the finish line of the 2012 50th Anniversary Rolex China Sea Race on Saturday, April 07 at 02:43.26 (UTC +8). A dockside prizegiving ceremony was held shortly upon arrival in Subic Bay, with Rolex Philippines representative Wolfgang Weibach presenting owner Geoff Hill with his Rolex Yacht-Master Timepiece.

Geoff Hill's GENUINE RISK arrival in Subic Bay Photo by RolexDaniel Forster

Geoff Hill's sailing yacht GENUINE RISK arrival in Subic Bay - Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster

Hill walked through the superyacht Genuine Risk’s race: “The race started a bit more complex than we thought. We had a bit of breeze out to the oil rigs, then it died off again. Our plan was to go south of the rhum line and come up and we effectively stuck with that. Thursday was a difficult day for us, it was light and while the boat went okay we would have liked more breeze. The wind started to fill in last night and we had really good sailing for the past 24 hours: 10-12 knots and we were doing about 12-14 knots. The boat was going very, very well and we had smooth seas and a full moon so, what more can you ask for?”

“We enjoyed the race,” continued Hill, “it was tactically very demanding because of all the changes in the breeze. But this boat was out on the water for the first time in nearly 12 months so we are very pleased with the way it went. We had a new crew and that’s all come together pretty well, so we’ve had a really good race. I think if we had gotten the breeze we could have broken the record- we are pretty confident of that- but we didn’t get the breeze. That’s what ocean racing’s all about.”

Wolfgang Weibach (Rolex Philippines) and Geoff Hill with GENUINE RISK crew Photo by RolexDaniel Forster

Wolfgang Weibach (Rolex Philippines) and Geoff Hill with the GENUINE RISK yacht´s crew - Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster

Hill confirmed that he will begin seriously campaigning the luxury yacht Genuine Risk this year on the Asian circuit and is considering also racing the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with Sydney-Hobart race veteran Syd Fisher.

05:00 (UTC +8) update: Hi Fi is currently 68.9nm to the finish, with FreeFire trailing by 20nm. A difficult morning is expected for the 52-footers as the coastal breeze typically only picks up around 10:00.

Rolex China Sea Race 2012: Line Honours Scheduled for Tonight

April 06, 2012

The race coming to its end is heating up for the 2012 Rolex China Sea Race. Current fleet leader, Geoff Hill’s sailing yacht Genuine Risk, is currently (1700 hrs UTC +8) 106.9nm from the finish and is expected to arrive in Subic Bay around 0038 this evening. The team is sailing 14 knots, on track to take the Sunday Telegraph Trophy for Line Honours and a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece.

AUSTRALIAN MAID and SELL SIDE DREAM at the start of the Rolex China Sea Race Photo by RolexDaniel Forster

AUSTRALIAN MAID and SELL SIDE DREAM yachts at the start of the Rolex China Sea Race Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster

Singapore entry Zanzibar made gains overnight and is currently (1700 hrs, UTC +8) sitting first overall on corrected time, although the lead is changing regularly between EFG Bank Mandrake, Red Kite II and Hi Fi. The final outcome will depend on the best tactics for approaching what are typically tricky conditions at the Filipino coast.

“Looking at the offshore weather for today, one can see that the predicted high pressure zone that normally sits over central China is re-establishing itself and that the pressure gradient is producing east-northeast wind,” said RHKYC Sailing Manager Alex Johnston, “which is going to be great for the race fleet as they head down the track towards Subic Bay. The wind will be on the beam, or just after the beam, which is a great point of sail, and so the boats, after a fairly frustrating day yesterday, will certainly be starting to accelerate. The back of the fleet will benefit first from the wind while the front of the fleet will unfortunately get it last. The advantage is that for the front of the fleet the wind will be further after the beam and therefore will hopefully produce slightly faster boat speed… although not necessarily much wind speed. The boats with asymmetric sails –Genuine Risk, the TP52s and the Hot 40s, like Ambush and Sell Side Dream– will be loving these conditions.”

Peter Churchouse's MOONBLUE 2  Photo by RolexDaniel Forster

Peter Churchouse's MOONBLUE 2 yacht Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster

Frederick Peter Churchouse on Moonblue 2 gave a rundown on current (1700 hrs, UTC +8) conditions: “We’ve got some wind at last for the first time during the race. It’s blowing about 12-13 knots with beautiful conditions; flat sea and the sun is shining. According to the radio scheds there are certainly a lot of boats within 10 or 15 miles of us, not quite within viewing distance, but we were close to Redeye this morning. Given that we had such bad winds the first 36-40 hours, and if this wind keeps up, at the very earliest we could arrive late on Saturday night or early Sunday morning, but there’s still a long way to go and the weather forecasts still show some patches of very light air.”

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race: New skipper for Edinburgh Inspiring Capital

April 06, 2012

Italian yachtsman, Flavio Zamboni, is to start as interim skipper of Edinburgh Inspiring Capital the Scottish entry in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, which is currently in Oakland, San Francisco Bay at the end of the Pacific Ocean crossing.

Flavio Zamboni

Flavio Zamboni

Flavio, a 38-year-old yachtsman, who was born in Venice and lives in Southampton, UK, has a competitive racing background. He won the first ever RORC Caribbean 600 Race in 2009, and has been notching up a number of ‘first in class’ results in a variety of regattas in Europe and the Caribbean. As an experienced skipper of large yachts he has numerous Atlantic crossings under his belt, and has also competed in the Tall Ships Race on a boat run by the Italian Navy.

Furthermore Flavio knows what is required of the world’s longest yacht race, having worked for Clipper Training for the last two years, training crew members to prepare them for the rigours of ocean racing and has been working with Clipper Ventures in a freelance capacity since 2006.

He said, “I am looking forward to meeting the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital crew and discussing with them their goals for the next few races. I hope I can help them fulfil their potential.  We will have a week or so on shore before the start of the next race to Panama, which will give us some time to get to know each other. I hope we will be able to take the boat out sailing for a day to help with the settling in process.”

Born in Venice, Flavio graduated from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia with a degree in Law before becoming a professional sailor. He has brought a little Italian flair to Southampton, UK, where he now lives and can be seen riding around on his Honda Hornet.

He adds, “As an Italian, I can guarantee to improve the quality of food on board!”

Flavio joins Edinburgh Inspiring Capital in Oakland, California, ahead of the start of Race 10 of Clipper 11-12. He replaces Gordon Reid who has been skipper since race start in the UK and has stood down for personal reasons. Flavio will be interim skipper until a permanent replacement can be appointed.

The fleet will set sail for Panama, on Saturday 14 April.

Les Voiles de Saint-Barth 2012: A lay day before the final two days of racing

April 06, 2012

Dockside in the race village, at the Quai General de Gaulle, it was generally quiet today as Les Voiles de St. Barth sailors enjoyed a lay day before the final two days of racing on Friday and Saturday. While a few crew tended to yacht maintenance, others worked on their own personal maintenance, leaving for the Nikki Beach resort on St Jean Bay for some stand-up paddleboard competition.

Gustavia Harbour on the lay day Credit Christophe JouanyLes Voiles de St. Barth

Gustavia Harbour on the lay day Credit: Christophe Jouany/Les Voiles de St. Barth

Given the group of competitive sailors racing here this week, not ones to leisurely paddle around, a series of heats were run on the bay’s turquoise waters, pitting crews against each other yet again. Many of the owners and crews opted to make a day of it, settling into the beachfront restaurant for a rehash of the first days of racing, over a glass of rosé and delectable local cuisine for which the island is well-known.

Last night under a full moon at Shell Beach, local villa rental agency Sibarth, hosted a party for the 700 competitors and their guests who enjoyed food and drink at Do Brazil, as well as entertainment including a spectacular fireworks display, all just a walk from “downtown” Gustavia.

A Well-thought Plan
In only three years, Les Voiles de St. Barth has evolved into a popular stop on the Caribbean racing calendar. From 28 boats in 2010, to 48 in 2011, and 58 this year, it’s been a steady growth.  The organizers, Francois Paul-Tolede and Luc Poupon, have been keen to build the event carefully and ensure that all of the myriad of details, that help to build a solid event, are considered.  A big part of this is communication with the owners and crews who often are the best promoters of the event. Return appearances count for a lot, and a large number of competitors has returned two, and some three, times.

Down time at Nikki Beach for the competitors at Les Voiles de St. Barth

Down time at Nikki Beach for the competitors at Les Voiles de St. Barth Credit: Christophe Jouany/Les Voiles de St. Barth

And while the event enjoys the local support of many of the top Caribbean boats – including Sergio Sagramoso’s Lazy Dog (Puerto Rico), Bernie Evans-Wong High Tension (Antigua), Fritz Bus’ Coors Light (S. Maarten) – it is notable that it’s also been embraced by the international competitors, which make up over half the fleet. This year’s regatta includes boats and crews from the U.S., Canada, U.K., the Netherlands, Ireland, France, Spain, and Lithuania.

The regatta benefits from the local support of the Comité du Tourisme de Saint-Barthélemy, which was looking for a way to maintain the level of visitors to the French island, with one or two new events, such as Les Voiles de St. Barth.

Nils Dufau, Vice President of the Comité du Tourisme said, “The idea was to find something authentic that represents St. Barth’s in the best way. One that includes sportsmanship, and the history – and you always come back to the sea and sailing. St. Barth’s was built from the sea.”

Paddle board competition at Nikki Beach Credit Georgina Beken

Paddle board competition at Nikki Beach Credit: Georgina Beken

“Our philosophy is “bouche a orreille” (“word of mouth”). So now we are assisting the event with support from Air France, as well as with media promotion to highlight these special events – ones, such as Les Voiles, that are appreciated by the local population, as well as visitors.”

Racing continues tomorrow with the first warning signal scheduled for 11am, for the seven classes competing. Tomorrow’s weather forecast calls for easterly winds of 10-12 knots.

34th America’s Cup: Russell Coutts joins China Team in Sanya, China

April 05, 2012

Today, China Team announced that Russell Coutts, CEO of the current America’s Cup champions ORACLE Racing-Team USA as well as the most successful skipper in the 161 year history of the America’s Cup, will be present at the Hainan Rendez-Vous, held from 6 to 8 April, 2012 in Sanya, China.

Russell Coutts joins China Team in Sanya, China

Russell Coutts joins China Team in Sanya, China

The Olympic Gold medalist and four-time winning skipper will be a special guest of honor of China Team, the official and exclusive Chinese challenger for the 2013 America’s Cup in San Francisco, as well as VIP at the Hainan Rendez-Vous.  Coutts will speak to the invitation-only audience of the main gala dinner about the upcoming challenge in San Francisco for the oldest trophy in international sport, the America’s Cup and how a Chinese challenger is key to the event.

“A Chinese challenger for the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco speaks to both the growth of the sport and the strength of the venue.  We are looking forward to China Team’s participation and the healthy competition it will bring,” said Russell Coutts.

China Team chairman, Mr. Wang Chaoyong is delighted to be the host for Russell Coutts in China, as China is a growing market for all things sailing (yachts and motorboats) and with more and more Chinese taking to the sea, China will very soon become an important country for water sports.

“China Team is developing its team of both international and Chinese sailors, and will be the only team to require a national crew mandate; we have committed that most sailors on China Team during  the America’s Cup will be Chinese, to reflect the growing interest that China is taking on this sport,” says Mr. Wang.

“Having Russell Coutts supporting China Team in our home country really shows how important China Team is to the America’s Cup. We value his support tremendously.”

34th America´s Cup: Exclusive interview with LOICK and BRUNO PEYRON from Energy Team France

April 05, 2012

Energy Team France is one of two French challengers for the 34th America´s Cup and is led by Loick as well as Bruno Peyron, heroes in France and two of the most famous sailors around the world. Michel Dejoie from Nautical Channel who grew up with the Peyrons will rendez-vous with them on their home waters in the bay of La Baule, France for an exclusive all sails hands on interview.

Energy Team


Loick, the younger of the two brothers is one of the most accomplished multihull sailors and particularly famous for his achievements as skipper of “Fujicolor”. Loick won the the ORMA championship for trimaran yachts in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2002 and the Transat on Gitana 80. He was crew on Alinghi in the 33rd America´s Cup and winner of the Barcelona World Race with Jean Pierre Dick.

Bruno, his elder brother, has an equally impressive sailing track record. He was the first winner of the Jules Verne Trophy in 1994, completing a round-the-world trip in 80 days. He did it again in 2005 when he set an outright round-the-world sailing record of 50 days on Orange II and than again in 2012 bringing the world record to an incredible 45 days.

But Bruno has also exceptional experience of organizing and managing sailing challenges as one of the masterminds behind “The Race”, an epic non-stop around-the-world race in 100 foot catamaran yachts which stunned the world.

90ft McConaughy superyacht Genuine Risk leads the way at Rolex China Sea Race 2012

April 05, 2012

The Rolex China Sea Race is 24 hours into their 50th Anniversary race with the three McConaghy constructed yachts in poll positions. Dubois 90 sailing yacht Genuine Risk, built by McConaghy in 2004 is leading the way to take line hours. The yachts will try to break the race record of 47h 43m 7s, with 366 nautical miles left (as of 6:00 AEST).

Sailing yacht Genuine Risk

Dubois 90 sailing yacht Genuine Risk

Welbourne 52 sailing yacht HiFi, built by McConaghy in 2007 is battling it out for first in IRC Division 0, with only one nautical mile between them and Freefire. The Mills 41 yacht Ambush, built by McConaghy is in IRC Division 1.

Over on the British Channel, Andrew Pearce’s new McConaghy Ker 40 yacht Magnum III is leading the Warsash Spring Series, coming first in IRC 1 by 9 points after 3 Races and 12 points of the 4th place RAN.